Certain areas of the new temple structure described by Ezekiel in chapters 40-48 were cut off from the public. In particular, what was known as the “separate place” (Ezekiel 41:12) could only be accessed from inside the temple court. It is unclear exactly what the separate place represented, but it is likely it was a designated spiritual zone that only holy persons could enter into. Ezekiel was told, “The north chambers and the south chambers, which are before the separate place, they be holy chambers, where the priests that approach unto the LORD shall eat the most holy things: there shall they lay the most holy things, and the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; for the place is holy” (Ezekiel 42:13).
It could be said that the place Ezekiel described as the new temple was an intersection between physical and spiritual realms. The temple existed within a physical space on earth and was visible to the human eye, but may have had dimensions in the spiritual realm that were disconnected or walled off from human perception. Ezekiel’s statement “for the place is holy” (Ezekiel 42:13) could be interpreted, this spot is separated or set apart from the rest of the structure. What he may have meant was that the holy place was connected to or considered a part of heaven. An indication that the separate place had unique spiritual characteristics that could not be translated into the physical realm was the clothing worn by the priests. Ezekiel was told, “When the priests enter therein, then shall they not go out of the holy place into the utter court, but there they shall lay their garments wherein they minister: for they are holy; and shall put on other garments, and shall approach to those things which are for the people” (Ezekiel 42:14).
Each of the four outer walls that surrounded the temple structure measured five hundred reeds or approximately one mile in length. Ezekiel said, “He measured it by the four sides: it had a wall round about five hundred reeds long, and five hundred broad, to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place” (Ezekiel 42:20). There are several ways the profane place can be looked at, one of which is as a place where death occurs. A difference between profane and holy is that holy things are considered to be eternal or as the Bible sometimes refers to them, ever lasting. God is an eternal being and can only be related to from an eternal perspective. When the Israelites defiled God’s temple, one of the things they did was treat it as if it was just a building, a structure in which things were stored and anyone could live. When the new temple comes into existence, it will be seen as the eternal dwelling place of God, a place where only those that have received eternal life may enter in (Ezekiel 37:25)